The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    HBCUs now have a ‘gard’ against fatal formula

    Unprotected sex and promiscuity are two deadly ingredients in a rarely detected poison that is killing college-aged, African-American women. Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, has spread at an alarming rate across the country, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities have become a major breeding ground due to a lack of regular check-ups and testing.


    According to Adriene Jones-Gill, RN, MN and Dillard University Nurse, too few African-American young ladies have regular doctor visits because they feel in control of their sexual health when they come to college. However, they rarely use protection during sex.

    “If you don’t adopt regular check-ups as a part of your lifestyle, it [HPV] happens,” Gill said.

    Gill also said that the people that catch HPV fall under three categories. “You got your college girls having unprotected sex, your unfaithful people and the na’ve people who think, ‘I’m the only one’, or ‘This will never happen to me’.”

    Whitney Wallace, 20, philosophy and religions major agrees that young African-American women have a false sense of sexual security when they come to college and pick up influences outside of their parents’ watchful eyes. “Guys play a big part in women’s decision to use any type of protection,” Wallace said. “As African-American females, we don’t take the time to educate ourselves about the risks of being sexually active.”

    Wallace said that there are several sources around college campuses about STD prevention and the nurses are always available.

    “If anybody says they aren’t informed, they are not looking,” Wallace said.


    According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), the most common kind of HPV infects the genital region and extends mainly through genital contact. Gill said that projections are usually found on the inside of the genitals, on the anus or on the cervix. Gill also said that persons who have HPV can usually get the outer warts removed. The CDC reports that most HPV infections show no signs or symptoms. Therefore, most infected persons are unaware they are infected, and are able to transmit the virus to a sex partner. Most men who acquire genital HPV do not have any symptoms.

    In rare cases, a pregnant woman can give her baby HPV during vaginal birth. Babies exposed to HPV very seldom develop warts in the throat or voice box, according to the CDC.

    After becoming sexually active, women should have a yearly check-up with a gynecologist because the Pap smear included in the check-up is how HPV is detected, according to Gill.

    Dr. Joanell M. Darnell, MD, who is a private practitioner in obstetrics and gynecology, said that there is no approved test to determine HPV in men; however, visible or non-visible abnormalities do appear on specimens of DNA testing.

    According to the CDC, approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV, and at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will get a genital HPV infection within their lifetime. By age 50, over 80 percent of women will have acquired HPV. Roughly 6.2 million Americans get a new HPV infection every year.

    The CDC reports that there is no cure for HPV, and the safest way to eliminate risk for genital HPV is to abstain from any genital contact with another person.


    According to Darnell, if undetected and untreated, HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Darnell defines cancer as cells with abnormal growth that over-populate the normal cells so that eventually, the body dies.

    Cervical cancer does not form suddenly, but occurs over a period of time when ordinary cervical cells gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. It begins in the lining of the cervix. “Once it spreads outwards, the possibility of living goes down,” Darnell said.

    The American Cancer Society released a report that showed in stage IIIB, one of the last stages of cervical cancer, the cancer could spread to the pelvic wall and/ or block the urine flow to the bladder.


    Not only does contracting HPV and having cervical cancer harm the body, but it can also wound your mental health. Psychologist, Dr. Armond A. Devezin, said that when young students are referred to him, they were diagnosed with HPV or cervical cancer and usually seek help for the depression of having that disease.

    When treating the depression of African-American female students who acquired the disease, Devezin said that he measures the level of depression first, tries to assist with the problem, encourages interaction with parents and assures the student of confidentiality.

    “They don’t want to go to school, they have all these emotions, they don’t want to deal, and yes, their grades drop,” Devezin said. “We can give them coping mechanisms to deal with the problem, but they will forever remember that they have cancer,”

    Devezin said that in some cases 20 or 30 years will pass and patients are still fighting the issues, but on the other hand, some people accept their fates and move on.


    Although there is no cure for HPV, the United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved Gardasil, a new preventive method. According to a pharmaceutical release statement by MERCK & Co., Gardasil is a vaccine that increases protection against type six, 11,16 and 18 of HPV. The official Gardasil website said that HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancer, and types six and 11 cause 90 percent of genital warts that HPV creates. FDA reports show that individuals infected with one or more vaccine-related HPV types before vaccination were shielded from the remaining HPV types’ diseases.

    Dr. Janelle St. Martin, pharmacy manager at Walgreens, said that if patients seek preventive methods like Gardasil, she could see a drop in the amount of STD medication that she supplies.

    “I would say Sexually Transmitted Disease medication distribution would drop about 40 percent,” said St. Martin. “The only problem is the cost of the injections.”

    Gardasil is given as three injections over six months, according to the Gardasil official website. The first dose is given when the patient and doctor agree on a date, the second dose is two months after the first and the third dose occurs six months after the first dose. In order to be HPV free, you have to get all three injections. According to the American Cancer Society, the injections cost $360, which this estimate does not include doctor’s fees such as the cost of giving the injection. Since Gardasil now possesses FDA approval, most insurers and government programs should pay for vaccinations in children under 18.

    “The fees can vary from $60 to $150 depending upon what’s needed, such as additional test, like pap smears,” Darnell said.

    The MERCK & Co. pharmaceutical release of Gardasil warns that Gardasil may not completely protect everyone who gets the vaccine. There are 100 HPV strands and Gardasil only protects against six, 11, 16 and 18 because they trigger approximately 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts. The vaccine should not be used for cervical cancer treatment and will not protect against previously acquired HPV types.


    Gardasil is for girls and women ages nine to 26 and works when taken before any contact with HPV types six, 11,16 and 18, according to the official Gardasil website. If already infected with HPV, Gardasil may still prevent the other non-acquired types of HPV since it is very unlikely to be infected with all four types of HPV covered by the vaccine.

    MERCK & Co. recommended that pregnant women, women with any illness with a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit not receive the vaccination. Any women with bleeding disorders and cannot receive injections in the arm and women with weakened immune system due to genetic defects or HIV are advised against getting Gardasil. Before considering Gardasil, patients should make sure that no allergy exists with purified inactive proteins from HPV six, 11,16 and 18; amorphous aluminum hydrooxyphoshate sulfate, sodium chloride, L-histidine, polysorbate 80, sodium borate and water for injection. Unfortunately, Gardasil has not been on the market long enough to have in-depth study on possible allergies, so even though Gardasil passed clinical trials with flying colors, patients take a risk with the injection.

    Women who have had a total hysterectomy may also choose to stop having cervical testing, according to the American Cancer Society.

    According to the MERCK & Co. pharmaceutical release on Gardasil, possible side effects may include pain, swelling, itching, fever, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing and redness at the injection site.

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    HBCUs now have a ‘gard’ against fatal formula